In September of 2011, Uruguay announced it could increase its wind power capacity by 800 MW. Not long afterwards, that figure was increased to 1,000 MW. In the beginning of January 2013, a new goal was publicized: 90% of all its electricity from renewables by 2015.
Though this figure might seem like a pipe dream to some, consider the fact Nicaragua has stated a similar goal, and both countries actually do have a chance to deliver the goods. Uruguay has slightly more than half of Nicaragua’s six million people, but it has 1,500 MW of hydroelectric power already.
About 45% of its electricity comes from hydro and 15% from biomass, so the remaining 30% is expected to be generated by wind. One thing in the country’s favor is the increasing renewable energy investment trend in South America. This trend is creating demand for turbine manufacturers like Vestas, which is supplying Chile with 90 MW of turbines soon for a new wind farm there.
Extra wind power is required in Uruguay to complement its hydro, which is robust but intermittent. Developing domestic renewable energy is an intelligent choice — especially for countries that rely heavily upon foreign oil. Although the initial outlay of capital may seem shockingly large, the overall amount of money they give away to other nations for oil has a detrimental impact on their economies.
These domestic energy projects also employ local people and teach them new technology skills. In August, it was reported that 21 wind farms were under development in 11 parts of Uruguay, so this energy independence movement is definitely under way. Green energy is also a good choice for Uruguay because it helps preserve local natural habitats, and eco-tourism is an important part of its economy.
As electric vehicles become more common, the country will have implemented the infrastructure changes it needs in order to accommodate them, and hopefully reduce reliance on gas-powered cars, so there will likely be less air pollution, which can cause health problems and even premature death.
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